The government has not responded to the yet unresolved issues and the anguish of the local businesses over the backlog of air freight with Air New Zealand still stranded in Auckland.
Prominent local businessman Stanley Kalauni who is also a member of parliament last week told BCN News that this situation with the backlog of air freight is adversely affecting local businesses.
“With our borders open with QFT, businesses are struggling to deliver basic services and supplies to visitors and local businesses. Vital parts, resources, equipment and supplies are required urgently in Niue”.
Kalauni said that as a business community, they are calling on the government to make arrangements with Air New Zealand to clear this backlog of air freight which he says they have been waiting for up to six weeks.
“The business community are calling on the government of Niue to arrange with Air New Zealand a special flight to clear all backlog of dry airfreight still stuck in Auckland”
BCN News reached out to the government officials last week about the businesses’ concerns but did not receive a response.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand’s Acting General Manager Cargo Alex Larsen said that they are doing their best but are also limited by the number of flights and the aircraft cargo capacity
“We do our utmost to prioritise getting cargo to Niue, but with anything, we carry its subject to cargo capacity on the flight. Currently, we operate one flight per week to Niue, and as more customers book to visit the island, some of the previous cargo capacity has been reduced to accommodate customers and their bags.
Larsen says that Air New Zealand has also had to transport funeral caskets as a matter of priority.
“For two weeks, we’ve been asked to transport funeral caskets which, as I’m sure you can understand, are considered a priority, but this again takes a large area of the aircraft.
“We understand that less frequent flying paired with high customer demand has put more pressure on airfreight availability and this has brought challenges for those trying to move goods around. Due to the seasonal nature of cargo, there will be occasional flights where cargo demand will exceed capacity. Our team works hard to manage any backlog of airfreight and is working closely with freight forwarders to understand their outlook of demand and ensure airfreight capacity is right-sized to demand in advance.”
The backlog of undelivered airfreight has been an issue for local businesses for more than two years and despite the concerns raised through the media, the government remains very quiet.
BCN News requested information from the government on the negotiations with Air New Zealand but as yet, no response. It is also unclear which minister is responsible for the negotiations with the Air Services Agreement.
The minister responsible could either be Premier Dalton Tagelagi as Minister of Tourism or the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Crossley Tatui but the government is not responsive to questions from the media on the matter.
Meanwhile, Stanley Kalauni is saying that they are tired of the excuses and just want to get the air freight that they have paid for and were expecting several weeks ago.